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RCGP warns of ‘confusion’ around coronavirus advice to GPs

The RCGP has said there is ‘confusion’ around the advice being given to GPs on triaging potential coronavirus cases.

In a statement to the BBC, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall warned that the advice around patients who don’t present with all symptoms of Covid-19 was proving problematic.

Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, last night said the UK is ‘very close’ to telling anyone with even mild symptoms to stay at home.

However, the latest guidance for primary care was updated on 25 February, and it states that unwell patients with a ‘relevant travel history’ should be identified when they book in at reception. If Covid-19 is considered possible during the consultation, the GP should withdraw from the room.

Since this guidance was released, there have been cases of Covid-19 being transmitted to people with no relevant travel history or contact with people who have been to the affected areas.

Professor Marshall said: ‘We are in an ever-changing situation and it is important that everyone in the NHS has clear, concise guidance about what they need to do to keep both themselves and their patients safe.’

He added: ‘We are aware that there is some confusion around triage and the appropriate steps that GPs and their team should take, particularly for patients who don’t fit all the current criteria for Covid-19.

‘We are also aware of some concerns around community testing and the information on cases being made available to GPs.’

Last night, Professor Whitty said the Government was moving to ‘phase when we will be having to ask members of the general public to do different things than they would normally do’.

‘Within 10-14 days, the UK will move to a situation where everybody who has even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever should be self-isolating for seven days afterwards,’ he said.

Discussing plans to move from the ‘contain’ to the ‘delay’ phase, he added: ‘There is a risk if we go too early people will understandably get fatigued and it will be difficult to sustain this over time.’